English Language as Hydra Its Impacts on Non-English Language Cultures Edited by: Vaughan Rapatahana, Pauline Bunce

Hardback - 304 pages
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22 Jun 2012
Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


In far too many places, the worldwide trade in English-language teaching, testing and publishing has become a self-perpetuating, self-congratulating, neocolonial monster … a veritable multi-headed Hydra. Too often the English language industry aggressively promotes itself as some sort of “uplifting”, “essential”, “proper” or even “better” means of communication than any other language. Unfortunately, its relentless global outreach is taking place at the direct expense, and the active denigration, of local and regional languages – not to mention individual identities.

English Language as Hydra brings together the voices of linguists, literary figures and teaching professionals in a wide-ranging exposé of this monstrous Hydra in action on four continents. It provides a showcase of the diverse and powerful impacts that this ever-evolving, gluttonous beast has had on so many non-English language cultures - as well as the surreptitious, drug-like ways in which it can infiltrate individual psyches.


English Language as Hydra is both poignant and honest in its reasoned and passionate evocation of this language's entrenched link with some of the ills of the world and its impact on speakers' subjectivities.

- Ruanni Tupas, author of (Re)making Society: The Politics of Language, Discourse, and Identity in the Philippines

English Language as Hydra opens our eyes to how empires and imperialism operate through linguistic ideologies and discourse strategies as powerful tools of domination - often with the active participation of the leaders of subaltern peoples and minorities.

- Rainer Enrique Hamel, author of Language Empires, Linguistic Imperialism and the Future of Global Languages

A wonderful and rewarding collection of contributions which critically examine how English can take over the language curriculum in schools throughout the world, almost always at the expense of other languages.

- ASEAN: A Multilingual Model - Andy Kirkpatrick, author of English as a Lingua Franca

English Language As Hydra is a useful reminder of the political dimensions of the cultural sphere and a fascinating crtique of the cognitive processes which accompany globalisation. This is an important book for anyone interested in the dynamics of education, culture and politics in a globalised world.

- Scoop Review of Books, September 18th 2012 available online: http://books.scoop.co.nz/2012/09/18/the - Mark P. Williams

The chapter contributors, including literary heavyweights Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Muhammad Haji Salleh, make the figurative connections between the Hydra’s many indestructible heads and the highly destructive forces that English teaching exerts on non-dominant languages and cultures around the world.

- Carol Benson, Stockholm University in Language Policy

In Greek mythology, the swamp-dwelling monster Hydra, is almost invincible, with its multiple heads that grow back after being cut off. Such is the power of the English language on the users it dominates. The English language as Hydra is the central image presented in this collection of case studies about how the language was used and manipulated in various parts of the world. As the case studies reveal, English linguistic imperialism does exist in various parts of the world. Still, the authors of the chapters are careful not to present the language per se as monster, but the agents and the attitudes that perpetuate its dominance at the expense of other languages. In addition, for most of the chapters, there are descriptions of various forms of resistanceto English as Hydra. Thus, while the book is a stern reminder to all who embrace English as decontextualizedand neutral, it is also recognition of human agency, as well as of critical and intelligent responses to English linguistic imperialism among stakeholders of the language.

- the Philippine Journal of Linguistics - Isabel Pefianco Martin, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

This book is thus an important one, which all language planners, ministers of education, English educators and other related authorities should be encouraged to read.

- ELTWorldOnline, March 10th 2013 - Wong Jock Onn, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The book offers fresh and concrete evidence that the hydra stalks the postcolonial world pervasively and persistently.

- Humanities Diliman, Vol 9, No 2 (2012) - Corazon D. Villareal, University of the Philippines Diliman

This book does offer a different perspective on the impact of learning English in non-English speaking countries. It gives readers another point of view as most might only look at the positive influence of English on the society in terms of the economic and social benefits, and overlook the negative impact it has on local cultures and indigenous languages. Hence, this book would be of interest not only to language policy makers but also English language teacher trainers and teachers who need to be aware of these important issues.

- RELC Journal , Volume 44 (3) – Dec 1, 2013 - Genevieve Chow

Read it if you can: it is an important bookthat highlights some of the damaging effects of the global spread of English, a phenomenon in which our industry is complicit.

- TESOLANZ Newsletter, December 2013 - Jo Anne Burns, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

The engaged and politically accountable scholarship exhibited in this volume offer both example and hope for creating a more equitable linguistic world order.

- Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 13:2, 131-134 - Ahmed Kabel, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco

Author Biography:

Vaughan Rapatahana was born in Patea, Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has a doctorate from the University of Auckland and he has worked as a teacher in the Republic of Nauru, Brunei Darussalam, the United Arab Emirates, China and Hong Kong. He has written widely in a variety of genres, and is the author of several books, collections of poems and poetry teaching resources.

Pauline Bunce is an Australian teacher who has worked in Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Her doctoral research with Charles Darwin University in Australia and her regular feature articles in the South China Morning Post have had a major influence on English teaching practices in Hong Kong.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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